Protection, Part 1 NSFW

“Is it true?”

Drawn from my focus by the question, I looked down at my charge. Her dark red eyes were wide with impatient curiosity as they met my slitted orange ones. I was vaguely aware that she had been talking about something, though I had been rather occupied with the sounds of the forest, and the sense that there was someone else lurking in the shadows beyond the reach of our campfire.

In the months since we had met, I had repeatedly heard that Karya was, at 19, the youngest candidate for Silver Sage in history. And she had certainly shown me that she had the magical might to deserve it. If nothing else, her hair - turned completely white as a result of the potent energies she could channel through her body, and the source of the title she might one day bear - was proof enough.

But there was a reason I had been hired to protect her. Not everyone was happy with the idea of a young, unproven girl taking one of the seven coveted seats. At the rate things were progressing, she wouldn’t live to see the end of the week, much less the next Council. Things were likely to come to blows soon... maybe even tonight.

“Maritza!” Karya complained, nudging me. “C’mon, tell me the truth! I want to know!”

I turned my attention to her, though I kept one ear out for the source of the noise I’d heard earlier. “What is it?”

She sighed emphatically. “I was asking, you know, about dragonlings. I’ve read about them, of course, but there aren’t very many of you left, and well... they’re always trying to blend in with the rest of society anyway, so it’s not like you get to hear much about what they can really do...”

I blinked. “What do you want to know?”

She launched again into the long description she’d given me while I wasn’t paying attention. I fought to remain focused on it now. “Well, I know you’re really strong. And you heal really fast. So that much has to be true. But the rest of it seems like it’s supposed to be painting you as monsters.”

I frowned slightly. Aren’t we?

She continued, not noticing the change in my expression. “I mean, stuff like that you value gold over anything else. And I know you like jewelry and other shiny stuff, but I’m pretty sure if it was between saving one of your baubles and my life, you’d pick me.”

Only because I’ve been promised even more gold if I keep you alive, I thought cynically, but I knew it wasn’t true.

“There are a few books that even say-” she laughed slightly, and there was a strange element to it that I didn’t recognize. “- you could eat someone whole. That dragonlings like to do that, and even though they don’t really anymore, it’s only because humans outnumber them by so much that it would be suicide.”

Ah.

She looked up at me, the curiosity back in her eyes. “So, is it true, or just a bunch of stuff made up to make dragonlings look evil and make people distrust them?”

I considered briefly. The truth might scare her. But lying, and getting caught at it, would make her distrust me far more than this book apparently had. I thought about changing the subject, but the light in her eyes told me she’d never accept a non-answer like that.

“It is true,” I said finally.

“Oh,” she said, suddenly quiet, and I wondered if I’d made a mistake in telling her this.

We sat in silence for a few moments.

She was the one to break it. I couldn’t identify the tone in her voice - morbid curiosity, perhaps? “So, say... you could eat me?”

“Yes,” I said. There was no point in lying to her now; she’d undoubtedly see right through it. Naive though she may be, she wasn’t stupid.

“And... you would enjoy it?” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “I would... taste good?”

“Don’t concern yourself with that,” I began. “I’m not going to-”

She looked up at me, the curiosity still bright in her eyes, though it mixed with something else. Not fear - I’d seen fear in her eyes, and this wasn’t it. “I mean... hypothetically.”

I chewed my lip. Karya had... an intoxicating scent. It was one of the first things I had noticed about her when we’d met the first time. I had trained myself well; she was in no danger. But would I enjoy her flavor, given the chance...?

“Yes,” I said, slightly guiltily. “Not that I know what you taste like.”

“Maybe you’ll find out someday,” she said, musing with that morbid curiosity again. “I mean... maybe someone will pay you more than you’re getting now for you to get rid of me. And it wouldn’t be hard for you, you’re tall and strong and fast, I’m small and weak and I’d trip over my own feet trying to run away, you wouldn’t even have to try at all to catch me. Once you caught me, there would be nothing I could do to get away... And then... gulp, no more Karya...”

I ignored the rising hunger at her description and put a hand on her shoulder. “What your books perhaps left out is that some of us take loyalty very seriously. I bond to my charges until they choose to end the contract or one of us dies. If someone tried to pay me to break my contract with you, I would certainly have a big meal that night. But it wouldn’t be you.”

She nodded after a moment, and when she spoke again her voice seemed normal enough. “So, what would you do if I was the one who paid you to eat me?”

I admit the question caught me off guard, even though I pride myself on never being caught off guard.

She grinned at me while I tried to figure out how to respond to this. “Logic bomb!” She rose, stretching. “It’s kinda late, isn’t it? Maybe it’s time for bed.”

I nodded. “Go ahead. I’ll keep watch.”

She vanished into the tent, readying herself for bed. I focused myself on the other presence in the forest. Whoever it was had gone still and silent. Damn... That would make tracking their movements a lot harder.

While I waited for another hint of the foreign presence to present itself, I let my mind wander. What exactly was going through Karya’s head? That conversation had been extremely strange, even by the eccentric young mage’s standards.

Not to mention, it had made me hungry. She had unintentionally awakened long-suppressed desires with all that talk.

There was no way I could have Karya. But, perhaps, another opportunity would present itself...

As if in response to my unspoken request, something suddenly alerted my ears and nose to its presence. The intruder from earlier, I guessed, breaking out of whatever cover they’d slipped into. They were trying to be sneaky, but it would take a lot more than “sneaking around” to fool a dragonling’s senses.

I rose as quietly as I could. My body was good for many things, but stealth was not one of them. My distant draconic ancestors were never much interested in hiding, and on the rare occasion that they wanted to avoid a fight, simply scared the life out of whatever would-be hero dared try to storm the fortress. And while I could certainly scare the assassin away, in this case I wanted to catch them.

Turning as well as I could without taking a step, I turned my gaze on the area where the scents and sounds were coming from. After a moment of concentration, I picked out an incongruous shadow beneath the trees.

My midnight snack.

Based on the silhouette’s shape and pose, I guessed that it was a young woman a few years older than Karya, still reckless and not terribly experienced.

If she had some experience, she’d probably have the sense not to get so close to me.

She was using a shadow-binding spell to obscure her form in the darkness. Not the most potent of magics, but enough to fool most eyes.

Mine aren’t most eyes, though.

I made a show of scanning the trees, as if I hadn’t seen her. I heard her shift slightly - she must have tensed when I looked in her direction, and now she was relieved, thinking I hadn’t seen her after all. Little did she know I was just planning my attack.

Still, my victory was far from assured. If I startled her, and she ran, I wouldn’t be able to catch her. She’d easily lose me in the trees if I gave chase, and I wouldn’t... leaving Karya alone so I could fill my stomach was inadvisable. There might be others that I hadn’t noticed. Hell, even the forest’s own monstrous denizens might want a piece of her, and if anyone was going to eat her, it was damn well going to be me.

Of course, the safest thing to do for Karya’s sake would be to scare her off. Stand guard outside Karya’s tent, run at her, something. But the hunger in me begged to have her.

While I pondered the situation, my ears perked. She had moved again. She was going toward the tent. It was now or never.

I coiled my legs and launched myself in her direction, hoping I had enough power to reach her in a single bound, and wishing I was old enough to develop the dread wings that made my ancestors the stuff of nightmares.

She startled as she saw me suddenly zipping toward her, silhouetted by the fire. As my feet touched down, she turned to run. Just out of arm’s reach. But maybe...

I leapt again, letting my remaining momentum carry me forward a shorter distance. It was enough - I slammed into her, and we crashed together to the ground, the impact making the shadow spell glitch and fade away.

Immediately she was writhing beneath me, trying to grab her knife and stab me with it. It wouldn’t do her much good if she did, but I didn’t want to let her, either. It would hurt, and I didn’t want to be forced to explain any remaining injuries to Karya come morning.

I wrestled with her on the ground, trying to get her pinned beneath me. She was surprisingly slippery, and slid out of my grasp a few times. At one point, I even wondered if she might get away, her body managing to wriggle free of mine, her legs squirming desperately toward freedom.

But there was never any real chance of her escaping. And, sure enough, within minutes she was held motionless beneath me, my hips pinning hers down, my arms holding hers still.

“Very sneaky,” I said calmly, looking down at my trapped prey. Her long hair spilled out beneath her head, darker than the forest night even without the help of the shadow spell. “I was wondering if I’d manage to catch you or not. You understand that there was no chance you’d reach the girl, of course.”

The assassin glared up at me, though I could see the fear in her eyes. I liked it. “Wasting your time with me? The others have probably killed her already.”

I shook my head. “There are no others. That kind of bluff doesn’t work on someone as old as me. I’ve fallen for that one plenty of times in my day, but not today. There’s just you and me, isn’t there?”

She narrowed her eyes, carefully ignoring my question. “Old? You look barely older than I am.”

Did she not realize who she was dealing with? That was going to make what happened to her next a real surprise. “I assure you, I have had many years to meet much cleverer prey than you, and I have learned all their tricks. Now that I’ve caught you, I’m not going to let you go.” I licked her face, savoring the smooth taste of her creamy, soft skin, and my instincts flared. It had been so long since I had eaten a proper meal...

She went tense under me. “Wh... What do you mean, prey?”

But by the time she got the question out, I didn’t feel like answering any further. My lips parted, and her shriek of surprise went straight down my throat.

She would soon be following it.

My tongue explored her face as her arms strained to break free of my hands and retaliate. Her skin had a surprisingly soft texture for someone in such a rough business. There was a faint residue of makeup lending an unusual taste to it, though I didn’t mind. It was quickly washed away by my tongue’s eager explorations, in any case. I pondered on the strangeness of her flavor as I enjoyed it. Perhaps she was some noble’s daughter, taking to the shadows to serve the needs of her family. Or maybe this was part of her cover, and she was fully devoted to the darkness.

My stomach growled, reminding me of her purpose. It didn’t matter where she came from. What mattered was where she was going... and that she get there as quickly as possible. I swallowed, and the crown of her head pushed into my throat.

Another scent mixed with hers as my tongue caressed her neck lovingly, brushing under her chin, eager to taste every inch of her body. But my stomach had made its demands clear, and my hands worked to tear apart the thin catsuit she wore. As this freed her hands, my head and shoulders were suddenly assaulted with a stream of desperate blows.

They were of no consequence. She was weak and panicked, and her strikes had little force in them.

With some difficulty, I swallowed again, my tongue delighting in the two soft orbs before it now. Her arms were suddenly stuck against her sides, and she flailed them as well as she could but could not reach me. I smiled around her, feeling her squirm sharply as my probing tongue played across her rapidly-stiffening nipples. The feeling of her breasts in my mouth was euphoric. I’d forgotten how good a human woman could taste.

I wanted to hold her like that and savor her forever, but my hunger - and Karya’s vulnerability - would not be so patient. Reluctantly, I swallowed a few more times, barely giving myself the time to brush her bare belly with my tongue.

Her sex, on the other hand... I heard something between a shriek and a moan issue from within me as my tongue entered her. Normally, I would toy with her quite a bit. I remembered how fun it was to play with my meals’ desires.

But time was short. My tongue worked quickly within her, decades of practice being put to work in making a meal of her as fast as possible. She whimpered helplessly inside me as I expertly brought her to orgasm after orgasm, her sweet juices running down my tongue. I hadn’t eaten in a long time, I needed every drop of energy I could get from her.

At least she would enjoy being wrung dry.

Her struggles gradually slowed, and as her legs finally dangled limply from my mouth, it was time to finish her off. I slurped up her legs, removing her soft-soled boots before gently pushing her bare feet into my mouth. She was already half-curled in my belly, so I took the time to savor this last taste of her. My tongue delicately caressed her sensitive soles, which twitched and squirmed slightly in a futile effort to get away from me. I could taste the faint saltiness of sweat on them. I liked it much more than the makeup on her face.

Her toes curled as my tongue slipped over and between them, one last taste before the final swallow. I let my hand trace the movement of her feet down my throat, coming to rest on my slightly distended stomach. Full... It had been a long time since I’d been this full.

It felt fantastic.

As I began to pick myself up to return to my guard position, I noticed a figure standing near the tent.

Karya.

My mind reeled. That was the other scent I’d noticed. She’d watched me the whole time. What was she thinking? Was she about to panic and run?

But as I brushed myself off, she made no move to flee. In the faint light of the fire, I could see that her cheeks were a warm pink.

She gave a little wave, then vanished into the tent again.

I went to follow her...